A new remand centre at Lara proposed by the Liberal National Coalition is expected to slash the number of prisoners in police station cells like Warrnambool and Colac.
A coalition spokesman said that after four long years, the Daniel Andrews Government had lost control of Victoria’s prison system, with riots, rising violence, a flood of contraband and overcrowded prisons.
He said the commitment by the Matthew Guy Liberal Nationals Coalition to build a new 300-bed Western Victoria Remand Centre at Lara was great news for police officers sick and tired of babysitting and ferrying prisoners from one overcrowded police cell to another.
The coalition claims that as a result of Mr Andrews’ failure to invest in new prison infrastructure, police stations cells have been overflowing with both sentenced and remand prisoners that should be in jail.
The construction of the Western Victoria Remand Centre will change this model once and for all, he said.
For police in the west, under a new operating model, Corrections Victoria will be required to pick up prisoners who have been remanded in custody from police cells within 24 hours and transported to the remand centre.
The new model will mean only those recently taken into police custody, or those being held for court, will be held in police cells.
That system is expected to slash the number of prisoners in police cells at places such as Horsham, Warrnambool, Colac, Geelong, Ballarat, Werribee, Broadmeadows and Sunshine.
Liberal South West Coast candidate Roma Britnell strongly supported the initiative.
“The Western Victoria Remand Centre and the new model for remand, will free up resources to get more police on the street keeping our communities safe,” she said.
“Police custody officers will still play their role - managing the cells and transporting prisoners to court.
“The new model means the cells will be used for their intended purpose and not as overflow for both sentenced and remanded prisoners,” she said.
Opposition spokesman for Corrections Edward O’Donohue explained the expected impact of the new system.
“Fewer prisoners being babysat or transported by police from station to station will mean more police on the beat to prevent crime and catch criminals,” he said.
“A Matthew Guy Government will put the frontline first with police freed up to catch, rather than babysit criminals.
Daniel Andrews has lost control of the justice system and only the Liberal Nationals have a clear plan to fix it,” he said.
The Liberal National coalition on Wednesday pledged to build a new 1300-bed prison facility at Lara with sections for maximum security, medium security as well as a remand centre.
This jail will be almost double the size of the one proposed by Labor.
Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy said the Labor Government had lost control of violent crime in Victoria.
"Under the Liberal Nationals mandatory minimum jail sentences, 15 years jail will mean 15 years jail. There won’t be any discounts for so called good behaviour.
“If that means building bigger prisons to keep innocent Victorians safe than that is money well spent.
“Only a Liberal Nationals Government will get back in control of violent crime with mandatory minimum jail sentences where jail means jail.
At this election Victorians will have a clear choice on crime. Victorians can choose more of the same failed law and order policies of Daniel Andrews and Labor or they can choose to get back in control of violent crime by choosing a Liberal Nationals Government.”
Mr Guy said under the Andrews Government aggravated burglaries were up 43 percent, common assaults up 38 percent and attempted murder 47 percent.
He said too many violent criminals were get a slap on the wrist and were soon back out in the community again, hurting or killing innocent Victorians.
That’s why a Liberal Nationals Government will get back in control of violent crime by introducing mandatory minimum jail sentences for repeat violent offenders, he said.
Mr Guy said Daniel Andrews and Labor din’t support mandatory minimum jail sentences.
“They believe the current system is working fine. We don’t agree,” he said.
“Under a Liberal Nationals Government, jail will mean jail. We believe violent re-offenders should be locked up in jail where they can’t hurt innocent Victorians.
Mr Guy said the coalition would reallocate Labor’s $689.5 million proposal for a 700-bed prison to a 1300 bed prison consisting of 700 maximum-security, 300 medium-security and 300 for a remand facility.
He said the crisis in corrections and the justice system is largely reflected in the dramatic increase in the number of prisoners unsentenced or on remand.
“The number of prisoners on remand has increased under the Andrews Labor Government by 1473 to nearly 3000 - an increase of around 100 percent,” he said.
Construction is expected to start on the current proposed site in 2019/20 and completed late 2022 with a six-month testing and commissioning period.
Mr Guy said it was also proposed that the new Lara Prison would be a hub for alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs and have a larger medical centre to service the Lara Prison Precinct, to take pressure from the current medical unit at the Port Phillip Prison.
He said a Liberal Nationals Government will also provide an onsite magistrate at the Lara Prison Precinct to address the increasing problem of prisoners failing to appear for court often because they refuse to board transport.